Home > School and Learning > Learning Differences > Gifted Education > Extra Motor Activity in Bright Children
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Extra Motor Activity in Bright Children

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: We believe our five-year-old son may be gifted. I took the gifted child test and read all the information about gifted children and found that Matthew has most of the traits. However, my question relates to a behavior he has had since he was three. He paces back and forth on a regular basis. He is in control of this behavior, but cannot stop the behavior altogether. He has seen several doctors, none of whom could give a reason for his pacing (high I.Q., maybe obsessive-compulsive).

He is a very normal child; he is social, highly intelligent, and sweet as can be, but I worry about how he will be treated by other children who may tease him when he starts school. Do you think he just has so much going on in his mind that he uses this pacing behavior to process information? I cannot find any information on this behavior. I find it difficult to believe he is the only child who has ever had this sort of behavior. Any words of advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

A: Your son is absolutely not the only very bright child to have some extra motor activity. Without having witnessed his pacing myself, I can say that it is not uncommon for a child whose brain is zipping along to have extra motor behavior: from fidgeting to humming to pacing. I liken it to a cooking pot on full boil with steam escaping from under the lid!

You mention Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I believe that "obsessive" is becoming one of our most overused and misunderstood phrases, along with "hyper" and "addicted." For OCD to be diagnosed, there must be an obsession (an unwanted thought) and a physical activity (a compulsion) that is a response to the tension. They occur together. Example scenario: "We are in danger from evil in the world. If I touch all the doorknobs in the house, that will keep us safe." For more on this disorder, I recommend the book The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing by Judith Rapoport. However, I don't think OCD is his problem.

Since Matthew is five-years-old, you may want to consider having his IQ tested so that you will have a better understanding of his ability and how to best educate him. While it is also certainly possible for a gifted child to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), from your description, I don't think that he has this problem either. Many gifted children are misdiagnosed with ADHD, just because they are "movers."

I have worked with many children like your son. With maturity and social skills instruction, they can learn to physically calm down and vent their high mental energy in more socially appropriate ways. I would consider having a full educational assessment between now and late summer to help you plan for the next school year. In the meantime, the books Good Kids, Bad Habits by Schaeffer and DiGeronimo and Helping the Child Who Doesn't Fit In by Nowicki and Duke are helpful in altering an inappropriate physical behavior. Good luck and thanks for a good question!

More on: Expert Advice

Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!